Hilarius Hofstede, Dutch Multimedia Artist, Investigates “the Savagery of the Mind”

On first glance, you could probably guess the painterly inspiration for Hilarius Hofstede’s The Scream (2015): It’s Edvard Munch’s 1893 masterpiece of the same name. In Hofstede’s ragged-paper version, however, the screamer’s open mouth is formed by a relic of pop culture: a sticker from vintage vinyl, namely What You Gonna Do About It and Stop Your Sobbin’, the single and its B-side from the Pretenders (the latter is a Kinks cover). The printed wording on the disc itself—“Place coin here if flexible record slips”—is a comical reminder of how far technology and culture as a whole have come since the record was released and since Munch painted his masterpiece.

Born in 1965, Hofstede attended the Ecole Supérieure de Cinéastes in Paris. Early on, he started making paper assemblages, often focusing on primal and animal forms. Now, his oeuvre can be read as a rich, eclectic exploration of language and music, running the range from book-poems to paper works to writings in a magazine he co-founded.

Hofstede’s work can also be read as an exploration of the ongoing tensions in artistic representations of culture and nature, or as an expression of his complex and often uneasy relationship to the postmodern. For his paper version of The Scream, it’s not a stretch to imagine the subjectcaptured in a moment of distress, mouth agape, in a work that references a classic but also makes light of it—as a stand-in for the artist himself.

Hofstede came of age in Amsterdam at a time when the city was emerging as a nexus of the conceptual avant-garde, a milieu that fostered artistic rebellion and questioning of the norm. With that in mind, Hofstede created some of his works under the moniker “Paleo Psycho Pop,” and, in 2015, he created the concept and wrote the lyrics for an album of music called Allergy for the U.S.

Still, in all these mediums, drawing remains crucial to Hofstede. “More than the brushstroke,” he once said, “the drawing process communicates the territory of dream, and in my case, the savagery of mind.”


—Bridget Gleeson


See other artists from The Merchant House on Artsy.